Nick Robertson OBE

Nick RobertsonNick Robertson is the co-founder of ASOS.com, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer. His career began in 1987 at the advertising agency Young and Rubicam. He worked in media planning, buying and marketing services before founding ASOS.com in 2000. He was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his achievements in the world of fashion retailing.

What was your school like?
Canford in Dorset - loved every minute – friends for life.  Not much work done but plenty of sport and activities!

What was the most interesting thing you learned at school?
How to get 8 big blokes to work their socks off for you - I was a cox!

What was the most useful thing you learned at school?
How to get on with everyone – don’t underestimate the power of that.

How did you get started in the fashion business?
Pure luck – we started an online retailer and our first buyer was ex-fashion.

Which do you find more interesting: fashion or business?
First business – but fashion grows on you – its perpetual change and next year is always better than the year before.

What is the most important lesson you've learned since leaving school?
Be honest, people follow people not businesses…  the way you behave will be how your company is perceived.

If you could give one piece of advice to your sixteen-year old self what would it be?
Don’t take yourself too seriously... life will be as good as you are prepared to make (and work for) it.

What makes you angry?
Not much…  Chelsea losing?

Do you think the internet has been a benefit to society?
Its significance to the global society is enormous – education / medical knowledge / information / peace…  the foundations of society.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Having fun with friends and family.

How is an online business in Britain different from one in China (or is it the same all over the world)?
It’s different today, but that’s more about where each country is on their own retail / technology / demographic / disposable income journey.  Logic says it will level out in time.

What are the most important skills for someone starting off in business?
Be prepared to turn right or left at any point, be flexible.  Meet everyone – you never know where the next idea will come from. Follow the money – a small piece of a big pie is still a big number.  Never give up. 

If you had to spend a year away from ASOS how would you spend your time?
Doing some good somewhere on the planet – helping to build something that would make a meaningful difference to a community, ideally with my kids one day.

Do you have any ambitions left to achieve? If so, what would they be?
I never really had an ambition, I just wanted to do something I enjoyed.